News / Asia

China Puts Former Security Chief Under House Arrest

FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— China has put Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful politicians of the last decade, under virtual house arrest while the ruling Communist Party investigates accusations of corruption against him, several sources said on Wednesday.

Zhou is the most senior official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communists came to power in 1949. He was the domestic security tsar and a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee - the pinnacle of power in the country - when he retired last year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special task force formed in late November or early December to look into several  accusations brought against Zhou by political rivals, sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.

“Zhou Yongkang's freedom has been restricted. His movements have been monitored,” one source said, adding that he cannot leave his Beijing home or receive guests with prior approval.

Zhou is being investigated for violating party discipline, official jargon for corruption, the sources said. They did not say what the specific allegations were.

Xi was installed as head of the party just over a year ago, and as president in March, and the investigation illustrates his growing power and confidence that he can manage any rift that may ensue.

In ordering the investigation, Xi has broken with an unwritten understanding that members of the Standing Committee will not be investigated after retirement.

But Xi has yet to decide whether Zhou would be publicly prosecuted, pending completion of the internal probe, the sources said. Xi has declared war on corruption, vowing to go after powerful “tigers” like Zhou as well as lowly “flies”.

“Xi has pulled out all the tiger's teeth,” a second source said, referring to the downfall of Zhou's men, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises for just five months until September when state media said he was put under investigation for “serious discipline violations”.

Jiang was previously chairman of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) - Zhou Yongkang's power base - as well as one of its subsidiaries, oil-and-gas behemoth PetroChina . Zhou served as CNPC's general manager from 1996-1998, having risen through the ranks.

“Zhou Yongkang is a toothless tiger and tantamount to a dead tiger. The question is: will Xi skin the tiger?” the source said, referring to a trial.

Political analysts say such an indictment and a trial would instill fear in other retired leaders and the party's 80 million members, worsening infighting among rival political factions.

Jonathan Fenby, director of China research at analyst group Trusted Sources, said any form of public trial of Zhou would be “potential for embarrassment ... given his long tenure at the top”.

The Chinese government has neither confirmed nor denied Chinese-language media reports in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States that Zhou has been arrested on charges of corruption and other crimes.

Zhou and his family could not be reached for comment. It is not clear if they have lawyers.

The cabinet spokesman's office, which doubles as the party's public affairs office, did not respond to a request for comment.

Linked to Bo Xilai

Zhou was a patron of the once high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power - the worst political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

“Xi Jinping and [Premier] Li Keqiang hate Zhou Yongkang as he was the only standing committee member who opposed ousting Bo Xilai. They are gunning for Zhou,” said a source who has ties to the military.

Bo's career was stopped short last year by the attempted defection of his estranged police chief who implicated Bo's wife in the murder of a British businessman over a business dispute. Bo's wife and his former police chief have been convicted and jailed.

“Zhou's men have been sidelined,” another source said.

“The Central Commission of Political Science and Law has been cleansed of Zhou's men,” the source said, referring to the powerful party body once headed by Zhou that oversees the police force, the civilian intelligence apparatus, judges, prosecutors and paramilitary police.

The movements of Zhou's eldest son, Zhou Bin, have also been restricted while he helps with the corruption investigation that has implicated Jiang, the regulator of state-owned enterprises.

The elder Zhou retired as domestic security tsar and from the standing committee during a sweeping leadership reshuffle last year. During his five-year watch, government spending on domestic security exceeded the defense budget.

He was last seen at an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum on Oct. 1.

He was also among party leaders who offered condolences or sent flowers to the family of a respected educator who died last month, state media reported on Nov. 26.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported in late August that the leadership had agreed to open a corruption investigation into Zhou.

But sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters at the time that Zhou was merely helping authorities with the investigation into state energy companies and, contrary to media reports, was not the target then.

That changed after Xi ruled that no one was above the law.

Zhao Hongzhu, one of the party's top anti-corruption officials, declared in October that anyone who violated party discipline or broke the law would be punished “regardless of who it involved, how much power he has or how high his position is.”

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid